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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Shrek The Third, (2007, 0 *)

IF TIDELAND, TERRY GILLLIAM’S MISANTHROPIC MISFIRE, taught us anything, it is that a real trainwreck, not a metaphorical one, ought to be depicted as a crushing, onrushing, unmoored bulwark of metal and spark and fire and steam and dread. The charmless, innocuous, overpopulated, hardly-written Shrek The Third is the first depiction of a trainwreck I’ve ever witnessed set to “mute.” (And Tideland is a better movie.) While there are isolated gags that are either inspired or satisfying to the train_wreck._749.jpgsnickering child in all of us, such as the one oft-repeated in commercials, of a post-“Mr. Bill” gingerbread cookie that poops a peanut M&M from quaking fear, and a few quick glimpses of a nerd having a nosebleed (the only time I heard uniform laughter) they’re few and far between. (Note that I have resisted the temptation to Google the phrase, “Shrek The Turd.”) Long passages of inertia are broken up by gusts of tedium. Most of the settings and the themes, such as the fear of having children, something dealt with ickily, stickily, hilariously and with great, great heart in Judd Apatow’s upcoming powerhouse comedy Knocked Up, seem less about satisfying a diverse audience than about addressing middle-aged-verging-on-sclerotic issues close to the makers of Shrek—wealth, the fear of losing wealth, and whether their children will have cause to hate them just for being older and irrelevant to them. (The joke music cues tend toward the iPods of those born in the 1940s or 1950s as well, such as Heart’s “Barracuda.”) Let’s throw in a cooking metaphor: Shrek the Third is like a complex sauce made by someone with no sense of smell. Cameron Diaz and Eric Idle, voicing a knobby-kneed wizard, are the only voices that shine through. For most of the movie, Mike Myers’ Shrek, Eddie Murphy’s Donkey and Antonio Banderas’ Puss-‘n’-Boots don’t sound phoned-in, they sound phoned-in by uninspired imitators. (Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Puss? Yes.) At several points, dozens, nay, hundreds of characters fill the screen. These incomprehensible passages are more like a reading from the Far Far Away telephone directory than any kind of fun. (How in the ungodly fuck do you mess up the framing and timing of a joke about one of the three blind mice tumbling out of frame down a flight of cement stairs?) I think the last word ought to be left for the youngest critic in the room the Tuesday night screening I attended, a croupy little girl who gooed loudly at a quiet moment about forty-five minutes in, “Mommy, can we go home and watch Shrek?” [Corrections 18 May; h/t reader Armin T.] [Ray Pride.]

One Response to “Shrek The Third, (2007, 0 *)”

  1. Armin Tamzarian says:

    Barracuda is a Heart song, dude.

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

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~ Paul Schrader

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